Oral Health Summit Highlights

The Oral Health Summit took place on September 5th in Charleston, WV, as part of the great work being done by the Health Working Group's Oral Health committee. Over 60 people attended the event, including funders, state health departments, oral health coalitions, universities, health nonprofits, and others. The oral health summit was designed to bring together key stakeholders in the sector throughout the region to identify the unique challenges facing Central Appalachia. The 2 main challenges to oral health facing Appalachia that were identified from the summit were access to care and the need for more providers. 

Major Findings and Recommendations from ER Study

Dr. Raj Khanna presented findings from a study he and others from Marshall University School of Medicine conducted. Participants learned about the financial burden of those patients coming to the Hospital Emergency Department (ED) for non-traumatic dental conditions. Findings include:

    • Total charges from a single provider between 2010-2016 amounted to $4.68 million for 170 patients. Average charge per patient was $26,737
    • Total charges from all providers amounted to $19 million, with a total of 7,410 patients presenting in the Emergency Department.
      • Medicaid payout for these patients totaled $6.24 million between 2010-2016
    • ER visits by uninsured and Medicaid-insured were 4 times and 2 times more likely respectively
    • Some patients are in a cycle of using the ED for dental car

Recommendations From the ER Study: 

    • Policy changes
    • Models that divert patients from ED
    • Buy-in from payers
    • Collaboration
    • We can’t continue to do what we are doing and expect a change
    • Focus on prevention, make oral health a priority

Broad Challenges Across Central Appalachia

  • Access to care:
    • Transportation/proximity and income level of population in Central Appalachia are major barriers to engaging Appalachian communities
  • More providers needed
    • Loan repayment programs for dentists coming out of school
    • Medicaid repayment
    • Lack of funding for Medicaid credentialing
    • Lack of state funding for dental hygienists
    • Recruiting professional volunteers to serve rural areas – Need to accept dental practice licensing across states

What’s Needed? (Oral Health 2020 Goals Discussions)

Participants grouped themselves according to DentaQuest’s Oral Health 2020 goals to discuss the goal and what’s needed to advance a chosen tactic. Those resource needs include:

  • Capacity & Resources
  • Develop a business case for oral health in Managed and Accountable Care Organizations.
  • Data needs
  • Buy-in from the private oral health providers
  • Messaging

What Funders Can Do to Improve Oral Health Outcomes

  • Grantmaking - include an oral health component in other grants when possible
  • Convene people and keep them engaged and at the table
  • Use your influence to communicate, educate, and advocate
  • Leverage funding

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